Q&A with Ming-Na Wen

The last time we saw our plucky Agents they were facing some changes among their team. Ming-Na Wen, who plays the tough-as-nails Agent Melinda May, was in Toronto to discuss the return of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and how these characters will have to adapt their new realities.

CTV.ca: First half of the season, Agent May really stepped up as a leader. Will we see more of that?

Ming-Na Wen: It’s interesting because since Director Coulson has to fill Nick Fury’s shoes, Agent May had to step up and take Coulson’s position as well as be Skye’s S.O. She does it out of duty and out of a sense of wanting to help Coulson. You do get to see that continue to happen.

And will we also get more of a character backstory to the Cavalry?

When we come back, there is a new character that brings out May’s past, her ex-husband who is played by Blair Underwood. Blair and I go way back. We’re college buddies and this is our first time working together professionally. So it’s really nice because we do have that history and it innately made it a lot easier for us when we’re playing our characters.

Shifting over to your other character, you got to try on “another face” with Agent 33. At the end of the mid-season, we see her take off with Ward like two soldiers without a general. What can we expect from that pairing?

It’s all about these two lost souls that are trying to find in each other some sort of understanding that one could become the new leader, like Ward could be her new leader since she lost Whitehall. But for her, she’s still trying to find her identity because she’s been brainwashed. I think it’s an intriguing storyline because do we trust Ward to take care of someone so vulnerable? And it seems like there might be a side of him that we don’t know yet. It’s an interesting dynamic between those two characters.

It’s kind of fun to be working with Brett [Dalton] again on a whole other level since the whole Hydra thing. Since he came out as Hydra, I hardly see him; we hardly have any scenes to work on together so it’s really nice to have that opportunity.

That leads to my next question. Your dynamic with Dalton as an actor has shifted since season one. How has it changed now that you’re both essentially playing two completely different characters (as Agent 33 and “rogue” Ward)?

It’s weird because we now have to focus our energy differently. There’s not a lot of trust yet between Agent 33 and Ward but at the same time there’s a need for them to be together.

I was very reluctant to re-watch the last episode because I got very emotional when Tripp died. That will obviously have a personal effect on your characters but will it drive any plots?

Absolutely! I think it affects Skye the most because she was in the room and he was trying to save her. It really plays into all of it. B.J. [Britt] is a very beloved actor and friend and it was a very sad period in our show family when we had to lose him. The way he plays Tripp, who brought the funk and the noise, it was his heroic moment. It definitely has resonance – it will start S.H.I.E.L.D. in a darker tone as far as the plot and the storytelling goes. It’s always based on the humanity of these characters. You lose a friend. You lose a comrade and you’re changing yourself. Skye’s change affects the team as well. The basic core of our stories is how we relate to each other.

We do see Skye’s transformation into an Inhuman which really connects with the Marvel universe. Any chance we will see you on the big screen?

Everyone asks me that and I would LOVE it! No control over that but I would love it. Just keep telling Marvel!

You guys live-tweet the show, more so than most casts I know. How has that changed compared to work you’ve done in the past, before the Twitterverse took over?

It’s crazy! Now it’s become such a habit. For me, I come from theatre and the one thing that I miss so much is the immediate response from the audience. When I was first introduced to Twitter years back when I was doing “Stargate: Universe,” I didn’t want to deal with that. I don’t want to expose myself on this platform. But then I started to realize that Twitter was like being in live theatre. A lot of times when we work on a television show, we work in a vacuum. We don’t really know the response of the fans unless we have fan mail so [Twitter] is like an immediate response once the show airs. I love it! It’s like we’re there with them.

Plus, once upon a time, the only way to know if people were watching a show was through Nielson ratings.

It was so archaic! People watch television very differently now. And it’s not just the younger generation; I mean my mother streams television on her iPad. It’s a matter of convenience and everybody is so busy. We want to be able to watch whenever and wherever. That’s the luxury of what technology is offering.

One last question, what were your thoughts on “Marvel’s Agent Carter”?

I love it! Hayley [Atwell] is amazing. She’s an amazing person and actress. To have another strong female role model out there and she is the mother of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so that whole connection and backstory is vitally important to the whole universe.

(Source – originally posted March 3, 2015)

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